Monday, August 22, 2005

Senator Hagel, Your Swift-Boat Treatment Is Ready

Republicans have shown before that, when it suits their broader agenda, they will even turn the slime machine on their own. The Republican party's despicable treatment of John McCain when he dared to challenge George W. Bush for the pre-determined presidential nomination in 2000 showed us that.

So I'm wondering when they are going to get around to the "swift-boating" of Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), who has been a frequent critic of the way the Bush administration has conducted the Iraq war. He may have pushed the neoconservatives over the brink yesterday with his comments that make even more clear how much he believes Bush and his gang of miscreants have botched the entire Iraq effort.

Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, said on Sunday that the Iraq war has destabilized the Middle East and that it is beginning to look more and more like Vietnam.

"We should start figuring out how we get out of there," Hagel said. "But with this understanding, we cannot leave a vacuum that further destabilizes the Middle East. I think our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East. And the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur."

Declaring that simply saying you have resolve and "staying the course" does not make a successful Iraq policy, Hagel blasted any notion that the U.S. is succeeding in Iraq. "By any standard, when you analyze 2 1/2 years in Iraq ... we're not winning," he said.

Along with Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, Hagel was strongly in favor of sending two to three times as many troops to Iraq when the war began and has been a thorn in Bush's side ever since.

"We're past that stage now because now we are locked into a bogged-down problem not dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam," Hagel said. "The longer we stay, the more problems we're going to have. What I think the White House does not yet understand — and some of my colleagues — the dam has broke on this policy. The longer we stay there, the more similarities (to Vietnam) are going to come together."

So how long before Bush, Karl Rove and the Republican National Committee hit Senator Hagel with their standard practice of smearing all who disagree with them? Chuck Hagel seems like a smart man and I'm sure he takes no comfort in the fact that, unlike most of the chickenhawks on his side of the aisle, he has actually seen war and may have more credibility on the subject.

I'm also sure that Senator Hagel understands that being a highly-decorated veteran – Hagel was awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, the Army Commendation Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge and two Purple Hearts in Vietnam – only makes him a more inviting target for Team Bush.

Hagel knows that if they can question the courage and patriotism of men like John Kerry, Max Cleland and John McCain, they'll find a way to change the subject by degrading his service as well.

So, Senator Hagel, I thank you for your military service and for your forthright comments on the state of the Iraq war. Because, as a combat veteran, you certainly must hear those swift boats coming.